Health Care Checkup: State fines Aetna, cancer society honors KC organizations

The Health Care Checkup is a weekly rundown of the state’s top health care headlines.

Checking the Pulse

The Stowers Institute for Medical Research is located in Kansas City | Courtesy of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research
The Stowers Institute will be honored for its work in cancer research. | Courtesy of the Stowers Institute

Cancer society honors two KC organizations

Two Kansas City-based organizations, American Century Investments and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, were chosen by the American Cancer Society to receive the distinguished service award for their contribution to cancer research. The two organizations will be honored June 4 in New York at the 10th annual Financial Services Cares event.

Aetna fined $4.5 million over abortion, autism coverage

Gov. Jay Nixon this week announced a $4.5 million fine against Aetna over violations of separate state laws relating to abortion and autism. The fine is the largest against an insurance company in Missouri.

Aetna, one of Missouri’s largest insurers, is reported to have violated a 1983 Missouri law for covering elective abortions for women who did not pay for additional insurance for the abortions. The company is also accused of violating a 2010 autism treatments law by failing to cover certain autism health benefits.

Missouri joins suit against sham cancer charities

Missouri has joined a nationwide lawsuit against four sham cancer charities that have collected more than $187 million in donations from people throughout the country. The operators are accused of having spent most of the donated money for their lifestyle rather than charitable purposes. A spokesman for Missouri’s Consumer Protection Division said about $3 million of the money is from Missouri. Those charities have been shut down, but would be required to pay back only a portion of the $187 million because of limited ability to pay.

State officials respond to $34 million Medicaid refund

Last month, a federal audit called Missouri to refund $34 million for its failure in collecting rebates on prescription drugs issued to Medicaid recipients. In a letter dated May 13, Brian Kinkade, the director of Missouri’s Department of Social Services, told federal officials the state would begin to collect the rebates on Medicaid drug claims made after July 1. He argued that Missouri should not face the $34 million penalty, as it has made efforts to collect the rebates despite a difficult situation. The federal government has audited a number of states on the issue. Missouri faces the largest penalty of the states examined.

Number of the week: $11

That’s the new minimum wage that Ascension will begin paying in July in an effort to offer a “socially just” wage. Ascension, which is based in the St. Louis area, is one of the largest nonprofit, Catholic health care systems in the U.S. Of its 150,000 employees nationwide, about 10,000 will see pay bumps as a result of the wage change.

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